Lets look at a Bug’s Life. The film itself is nothing all that special compared to some of the other big animated films of the last decade, but it’s still a quality film. It doesn’t really do anything wrong and will keep you engaged from start to finish. It’s a fun adventure with good pacing, but you will get the feeling that it’s just lacking something. That extra impact to raise the film from a solid 7 to a great 8. I don’t know what that something is though so maybe the film would bring it for a sequel.
The plot starts by introducing us to the Ant pack. These guys are very strong in number, but they are rather passive. They aren’t even confident about going around a leaf without being told how to do it by one of the elders. Their own insecurities have led them to be tamed by the Grasshoppers even though the Ants badly outnumber them. Flik decides that Ants shouldn’t be working for grasshoppers like this and has begun making inventions to help make their lives easier. Unfortunately his inventions often backfire so he is convinced to leave the tribe under the pretense of recruiting powerful allies. That’s when Flik discovers a circus of powerful creatures and realizes that this is his chance. Will the performers want to help? Even if they do, can they possibly win against trained Grasshoppers?
It’s a fun enough plot. Naturally when a film is based around animals this can get pretty dicey but the film never goes that route which is fortunate. You wouldn’t really expect animal violence in this film anyway but it’s always good to have confirmation. The Grasshoppers make for pretty good villains. Some of them are even pretty vicious like the leader, Hopper or the one who is always foaming at the mouth. It makes for intense visuals and you do realize that the Ants are doomed in one on one fights. Even as a team they better have really good combos because otherwise they would be wiped out. The leader of the Grasshoppers is also the kind of villain who doesn’t give up easily. Even at the end Hopper was trying to reclaim his dominance at the top of the food chain. Unfortunately he ran into the best character of the film and one doesn’t often walk away from such an encounter. It was actually a rather vicious end for the guy.
If the film has a weak point, it would be that most of the characters aren’t all that engaging. I didn’t really care for anyone from the circus. The Ladybug who talks tough never actually acts tough when it’s climax time so he’s out. The others didn’t even try fighting at the end even though some of them look like they should be able to put up a good fight. They were also quick to walk away with the circus owner although I won’t put too much blame on them since the Ants did not want them. That brings me over to the Ants. The Ant Princess is definitely not a quality character and her plans are no good. Even after she figures out the main character’s deception, why send the circus troupe back? They definitely don’t have enough time to meet the Grasshoppers’ demands now so making do with these guys was her only option. Instead she just puts the Ants in a position to be ganged up on and eliminated. As the leader she needed to make a better call. The ex leader, aka the Queen wasn’t great either. She didn’t really do anything the whole time and was content to be on the sidelines. That’s not leadership material either.
As mentioned before, this doesn’t apply to the villains though. The Grasshoppers are certainly quite intimidating and the leader knows how to control his pack. If they dare cross him then they must take a punishment. He’s also bold enough to be surrounded by Ants and not care. If only the Ants were as brave. I haven’t talked much about the main character, but I’m afraid that he’s not very good so he fits in with the Ants. Even when the villain threatens to destroy one of the kids Flik backs up and decides to keep the peace. That’s definitely not something that any true main character would do. If you won’t stick up for your friends then you can’t be a hero.
The graphics aren’t bad. All of the character models appear to be on point. It definitely has more jungle type landscapes than the average film since most of it takes place in a grassy environment. There isn’t really much of a soundtrack though so don’t expect any great tunes to jam to. The writing is pretty good with a sound script. None of the characters seem over the top, at most they are just very naive like the average Ant. It’s almost hard to root for those guys since the Grasshoppers just seem a lot smarter and more strategic. The Ants have every possible advantage if they would just use it.
Overall, A Bug’s Life is a good film. It reminds you of the strength in numbers tactic and that you can’t submit to another species without a fight. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I would recommend checking it out. It’s a solid adventure film with a bit of action which makes for a pretty solid combo. Maybe one day these characters will show up in Kingdom Hearts. The movie doesn’t really leave any cliffhangers as it’s a complete ending but you could easily follow up on it by having another species decide to move in when they hear that the Grasshoppers have fallen. There are a lot of possibilities there.
It’s time to look at a classic Disney special. Moose Hunters is a team up adventure and those are usually pretty solid but Goofy ends up getting most of the screen time which was definitely not a great move. It ends up being one of the weaker specials I’m afraid but as always Donald is here to try and save it.
The adventure begins with the trio deciding to get some Moose. Goofy and Donald will act as the bait while Mickey loads the shotgun. Unfortunately for the mouse he gets pushed by the big moose on campus and ends up losing his shotgun. At this point it is all over for him. Mickey delays the inevitable by grabbing some grass big that’s basically it for him in the special. His subplot wasn’t bad though.
Goofy and Donald’s plot is the one that drags on. They decide to dress up as a female moose and do their best to distract the other one but since Mickey is out of the picture they are stuck in the role for a considerable amount of time. The same joke just keeps on going and going long after it has ceased to be amusing. While it is a parody of this kind of plot, I also never like the idea of using romance to trick the opponent into lowering his guard. For starters if should never work unless a character is extremely weak willed. It would have been nice if the Moose had just kicked these guys away. It would have sent a good message that he was not to be trifled with.
As always the animation is pretty solid. It’s all very fast paced and uses a lot of movement without getting sloppy. The character designs are on point and you do feel a certain level of tension throughout as you wonder if the heroes have what it takes to win this fight. There isn’t really anything in the way of music here but seeing as how the special is only a few minutes long there wasn’t much time to throw it in.
Overall, Moose Hunting is definitely not going to be remembered in the same way as most of the other shorts. It’s just not nearly as captivating or intense, but I will give it some points for effort. If you just really want to see the old gang in a new adventure then by all means check it out but I would sooner advise just about any of the other specials for a better time. This one’s plot just wasn’t good from the start which hurt it. After all, how can we root for the main characters when they’re hunters? It’s a very morally dubious career choice and one that can be a debate all on its own. Long story short though, I was rooting for the moose here so when the main characters got wrecked I was pretty satisfied. They had to beat a hasty retreat so the right side won.
Play Time 7h 14m
Gold Stars 10/176
Epic Mickey was definitely not my favorite platformer game. I thought that the story was very uninspired and the levels certainly didn’t have a very good design to them. There just wasn’t too much to it but I figured that a sequel would help with all of that. Unfortunately I can’t say that this was the case as this game is still rather glitchy and has poor motion controls to back it up. It’s not a bad game but certainly not the most enjoyable one out there.
The story starts with Mickey returning to Oswald’s world because something isn’t right. The Phantom Blot may have been destroyed but citizens of the kingdom are now being kidnapped. Moreover, someone has destroyed all of the warp gates in town so they are no longer accessible. If they don’t find the villain soon, then the whole world is at stake.
Thing is, you never really feel that sense of urgency while playing the game. The heroes barely seem to care about what is happening so why should we? Even the citizens feel no sense of loyalty as one turns evil for no reason and the rest flock to be Mad Doctor since he has promised to help out from now on. The town just isn’t very smart and this makes it a little difficult to really want to save them.
That brings me to the fact that this game’s cast of characters certainly isn’t great. Mickey is probably the most reasonable member of the group here as he does at least show some passion and nearly gets into a fight when one of the splatters looks at him the wrong way. Mickey wasn’t playing around in this game and also made the heroic call to not put the hostages at risk.
Then we have Oswald…I’m not sure how heroic I can say this guy is. For starters he is one of the characters who believes that the Mad Doctor has turned over a new leaf. I can’t fault him for being optimistic and that is a heroic quality but it’s annoying because we then have to hear the villain sing constantly. What hurts him more is that Oswald quickly gets jealous when the townspeople start liking the Mad Doctor. He also encourages Mickey to finish the villain off at the end even at the expense of his friends/hostages. Granted, the hostages are robots but that’s an ethical debate that Oswald probably loses since they seem sentient and Mickey did want to save them. Oswald’s just not a very heroic guy at the end of the day.
The gameplay is that of a 3D platformer where you run and jump to the goal. Typically you have to fulfill some kind of objective before making it to the end like destroying a machine or something of that nature. You have a paint brush which gives you access to two abilities, shooting normal paint and also shooting acid which really trips opponents up. It’s a handy ability to have but one that you will wish was not in the game since the motion controls make it a disaster. In general this is a perfect example of why I’m not really a fan of the motion era. It’s all just so rigid and not very intuitive. When you’re trying to aim at someone the brush will go crazy and you have to recalibrate your Wii sensor again.
The objectives aren’t always straight forward either as you will wonder what needs to be done while you are going around blasting everything. The objectives on the map aren’t helpful either because it will show you the locations of the bonus missions but not for the main one. As a result expect to take a little longer than expected to beat the game.
The game did do a pretty good job with the boss fights at least. The final boss is pretty theatrical and uses gameplay elements from the final Sonic DX boss (In Sonic mode) like the floor giving way and even mixing in a bit of Mario there as the floor becomes lava. These fights did take a little time to figure out how to fight the opponent but the Mystery wasn’t confusing and the characters would shout-out some clues which were actually helpful for a change.
You also have to give the game credit for throwing in quite a lot of bonus content in the game. It’s story isnalreadybreasonably long at about 6 hours and with the bonus content you’ll probably be here for another 4-6. I can’t say that it is something even remotely tempting to me to be honest but it’s always a good option to have regardless as it prevents your game from being known as barebones.
The graphics are reasonably good. The final big cutscene actually looks really good so I’m thinking that they spent the vast majority of their budget on this rather than on the whole game. I can understand the case for this since gameplay isn’t quite as important visually but getting it all to look smooth is important. The actual gameplay doesn’t even look as good as some N64 games. Forget the soundtrack as well since there really isn’t much there.
There is a cliffhanger at the end which is either resolved in the extra content at the end of in a third game which will likely never come out. Ideally it’s the former I suppose. So the game did a lot of things wrong, but as I mentioned it at least had some positives to back it up as well like the boss fights. While the gameplay certainly wasn’t polished and made you feel like it was the true enemy at times, I do still generally like platformers like this one.
Overall, Epic Mickey 2 is not exactly game of the year material but it does try hard to be the big success that we all knew it could be. It just doesn’t pick up until the final boss of the game and was ultimately a missed opportunity. I’d probably still get the third game but I really wouldn’t have very high hopes for it. When you make the same mistakes twice, that is usually a bad sign. At least a sequel wouldn’t need to deal with the Wii motion controls.
It’s time to look at a recent book adaption. Unfortunately the book wasn’t good so an adaption was ultimately doomed to not be very good either. It’s a real shame since there are better books that we still need proper adaptions of like Daniel X. The film’s plot is just really weak, the characters aren’t likable or enjoyable, and the climax has a lot of plot hax. Yes, you have made it to the final Wrinkle in Time movie!
The plot starts off with a little girl named Meg getting in another fight. Her Mom is worried since this has been happening a lot lately. Meg’s father vanished a while back and he probably isn’t coming back so now at school everyone messes with Meg about it. That’s when an alien breaks into the house and tells Meg that they can find her father. Meg’s brother Charles is cool with this and her friend Calvin is game as well. The alien transports them to another world and now they have to use the powers of friendship and hope to break reality and free her father. Can they do this?
Keep in mind that the plot isn’t really the focus of the film. You can argue that it’s all just an abstract roundabout way of trying to get Meg to come to terms with her feelings. A big chunk of the film is about getting Meg to accept the unexplainable and to believe in the impossible like her father coming back. It’s an interesting moral since usually it’s more about letting go. Honestly this should have focused on the mother more as she knew about the dad’s experiments about teleportation and never did a thing to try and find him. Shouldn’t she have suspected the most what had really happened as opposed to just buying into his disappearance?
Meanwhile the 3 aliens are extremely annoying and don’t contribute anything interesting to the film. For starters, they don’t know how to interact with humans which gets really grating right from the start. They constantly insult Meg (Okay, just the main one throws the insults, but the others express their doubts a lot) just like the bullies in the real world. Are these really the cosmic beings that we are supposed to root for? They don’t get any good scenes and throw Meg into this world with no context so of course she is having some trouble. They should be more concerned with how Charles is taking everything in stride.
Charles was the worst character in the book and that hasn’t changed here. The film did a good job of reducing his scenes quite a bit which was great but at the end of the day nothing can really save his unfortunate ending. He’s very weak willed so the darkness can control him quite easily. It makes for a visually interesting climax where he gains telekinesis and super abilities but that makes him too strong. Meg is just a kid so keep that in mind and he has super powers. She literally has no chance of victory but even after getting thrown around the room multiple times to the point where she should have died, Charles is convinced to turn good again through the power of friendship. I think the climax should have been handled way differently. As it is Charles was less shady than in the book but either way the betrayal was a bit much.
Then we have Calvin who is just annoying the whole time. He’s pretty much here just to try and add in a bit of romance. Spoiler alert, it doesn’t work very well. He adds absolutely nothing to the film and just seems unrealistic. He helps her self esteem a lot and seems like a nice kid, but of course he needs to have a sob story as well. Why can’t he just be a nice guy who isn’t trying to compensate for something? The romance doesn’t get much of a focus fortunately but you do have to question why it was around in the first place.
The cast is rather small as the film is focusing on the visuals and not developing everyone. Unfortunately that means that every bad character really hurts the film and that is the case here. Lets make sure we have the record straight. We have Calvin who is a filler character. He’s not terrible, but he isn’t good. Then we have Charles who is a terrible character. The 3 Aliens are also super annoying. Meg isn’t very likable either as she is simply too mopey and constantly doubting herself. By the end of the film she finally gains confidence but it’s too late. We have the school personnel who are bad at their job like expected and then the bullies are added in as fluff. The Father is a poor character as well if you ask me. Maybe he shouldn’t be blamed for being powerless to escape his prison, but the guy just came across as really unprepared and had a tendency to give up easily.
As you can see this film just really didn’t hit the right notes for me. Granted, its biggest offense for the most part is simply that it was very boring. It’s not as if it made huge mistakes that would make me give it a terrible score like a 2. It won’t be positive either though since I just can’t recommend a boring film either. The film just has no life in it or any real imagination either. It just feels soul less and never gets you engaged. It’s like a fantasy film without any good lore behind it.
Overall, A Wrinkle In Time gets a hard pass from me. If you want to watch something that makes you feel like you’re watching a real film then check out something like Narnia instead. You will leave that film feeling a lot more fulfilled and it’ll probably age better as well. Perhaps a sequel to this film would work better now that the introductions are out of the way but it would still need a plot that is actually interesting to back it up so that may be a little too much for this series to handle as well. Still, with a sequel there is always hope I suppose.
It’s time for the next Disney short which is another Pluto special. Unfortunately it wasn’t very good like the last one. It’s a shame because this special was going reasonably well until the very mean spirited ending. Definitely not the way you want to end any special.
The story begins with Mickey sending Pluto to the deli in order to grab his lunch. Mickey has been growing old over the years so of course he wouldn’t go grab it himself. Pluto has no problems with the plan since securing his own lunch will make it taste even better. Unfortunately, one of the alley dogs decides to try and steal the meat. Pluto is in for quite a fight!
It’s a classic story of two dogs fighting it out for the same lunch. Obviously Pluto is in the right here as it’s his lunch which he paid for fair and square. The other dog is just another in a long line of villains who would like to stop Pluto but he shall fall like the rest. At least that’s what you would think. Unfortunately the special actually ends with the dog winning and in one of the worst ways possible.
Pluto had made it home but then Mickey snatches the lunch away and gives it to the other dog. That was one of the biggest betrayals that I’ve seen in quite a while and Pluto doesn’t get a happy ending of any kind. Being forced to share it would be one thing, but losing it altogether? Yeah that’s not really a good idea.
The whole thing also makes Mickey look very bad and out of character. He seems completely oblivious to everything when I like to think that he is more on the cunning side and always ready for what is to come. He would have realized that having Pluto go grab his usual lunch would lead to the assumption that it was his. He should have told Pluto straight up what was going on instead of all this zigzag. At least tell him to buy 2 since then the implication would also be clear. Not saying it until the end just isn’t a nice or fair approach.
The animation is smooth as always. Disney is still consistent in that area and that won’t change for quite a while. It’s easy to forget just how old the specials are since they look so bright and vibrant. You would be forgiven for thinking that the special is a lot newer than it actually is.
Overall, this special is one that you will probably want to skip. Dread it, Run from it, but the Pluto specials will always find a way to break the mold of Disney successes and make some kind of mistake. At least if these two specials are a good indication of the group. There’s just no reason to watch a Pluto special when you can watch one about any other character. He’s simply not ready for the big time.
It’s time for what is the weakest Disney short so far. I don’t really think it would be right to blame it on Pluto here, but at the same time I have always suspected that he isn’t quite ready for the big time. He’s better as a supporting character than in the lead role. This special just isn’t all that fun and reminds me why dog shows like this one are more sketchy than anything.
Mickey brings Pluto to a dog show to show that high society aren’t the only ones with fashionable dogs around here. It’s a noble sentiment but seeing as how the judge is one of them I suspect there is already some bias in the equation. There’s no time to think about that though as a big fire starts and Pluto has to quickly turn into the hero that he always knew he could be. It’s a pretty emotional climax there and the special would have been better if it had started with the fire and abandoned the intro.
The scene that is the most drawn out is when the appraiser is messing with Pluto. Pluto tries to grin and bear with it, but the whole thing is pretty unreasonable so I wouldn’t have blamed him if he had tackled the guy right from the get go. Mickey shouldn’t have brought him here in the first place either. Pluto wasn’t having any fun and so it wasn’t fun to see him have to put up with all of this either. The special isn’t very long so it’s not as if any scene goes on for too long either, but the slapstick and comedy just wasn’t all that fun this time around. If a comedy special isn’t too fun…then what hope does it have of being all that solid?
As always the animation is pretty smooth and fluid though. The fire scene is impressive because of how fast everything is going and you just know that the artists must have had to draw a considerable amount to bring all of these scenes to life. Disney really got big through their animation and inventing such colorful and memorable characters really sealed the deal. It’s a visual masterpiece even if the actual special isn’t really the best one that they’ve put out.
Overall, I don’t think Society is ready for a dog show. Stick to the Puppy Bowl if anything since there they all follow the rules and don’t have to worry about bias judges. The second half of the special at least brings in a sense of danger and a lot of tension, but it isn’t enough to totally eliminate the first half. I’d say that if you are in the mood to check out a Disney special, watch one for one of the other characters. If you want to see Pluto then choose a Mickey Mouse special instead of a Pluto one. That is the optimal strategy here.
Mr Duck Steps Out focuses on how it can be tough to babysit while hanging out with a friend. Donald has to face off against his nephews while impressing Daisy at the same time. Can it be done? Well, this might not be such a hard feat if the nephews weren’t actively trying to sabotage him. I have to say that I was rooting for Donald here since the kids were just being unreasonable the whole time.
The only questionable thing Donald did was take away their present to give to Daisy but he gave each of them an ice cream in exchange which is a really fair price if you ask me. I’m sure Donald would make it up to them at a later date as well. At the very least they shouldn’t have decided to take revenge over something like that. I’ve never been a big fan of the nephews and this appearance certainly did not help their case in the slightest.
Daisy doesn’t really have much in the way of character here so it’s hard to say much here. She is oblivious to everything around her which is part of the humor for the special but it also means that she is barely a character here. I suppose she seems nice enough so maybe she will get more to do in a future special.
Donald is certainly the MVP here as he does his best to get past the traps of his nephews. He gets them out of the way whenever possible and even seamlessly gets back into the dance or whatever other activity was going on. Donald is always ready to go with the flow and even intentional sabotage is rarely enough to stop him.
The animation is pretty solid as always. The Living Popcorn routine with Donald was certainly animated pretty well. The scene where you see the initial Corn in the Cob transforming into popcorn is definitely solid. It is very detailed and shows the step by step process the animators went through back in the day. It’s a Disney special so I certainly expected as much from them.
Overall, This was a pretty fun special. It’s not nearly as good as most of the other ones as the plot is a bit thin and the nephews are too annoying but it’s solid nonetheless. I’d recommend checking it out if you like the Disney specials or if you just want to watch a high energy special for a few minutes. Something is always happening on screen and typically it involves a lot of running and smashing. We’ll see if the next specials can top this one.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen one of the old Disney shorts. The Donald ones are typically the best but the team up ones are right up there as well since who doesn’t like an ensemble cast? Mickey and Donald have enlisted the aid of Goofy to travel somewhere far away. I assume they are going somewhere to deliver supplies or something. Goofy assures them that he can get the duo there in one piece and so begins their adventure. The Trailer is rather high tech as the click of a button can transform the rooms into just about anything. Of course, this can also be dangerous as Donald finds out the hard way. You could be relaxing as you finish off your dinner only for the table to suddenly turn into a bathtub instead of vice versa. Perhaps the tech has simply gone too far in this case.
On the other hand, some tech could have been useful later on when the trailer is unlatched from the car and the heroes go flying. If they had an electronic lock perhaps they would have been okay. I think it’s safe to say that Mickey played the biggest role in causing this to happen though. He forgot that Goofy was driving the car and later on Mickey was also the one who kicked the trailer away by mistake. The heroes probably shouldn’t have made lunch so early either though so that was on them. Of course the driver would want a bite to eat as well. At least wait until a lunch break or something. Goofy didn’t ask for this and he still managed to drive them safely back to base. Now that’s what I call a top notch driver.
Mickey’s role is a little small next to the others but we do get to see his solid soccer skills in time for the Word Cup. He kicked the Corn with precision and power into the pot. Meanwhile Donald does his best to cope with this place but it’s rough since nothing seems to work right for him. Donald never gives up though. Goofy is the one to feel bad for since the whole thing is hardly his fault. After all, why would you serve breakfast when you know that the journey is still on?
The animation is smooth and consistent as Disney always was back in the day. Everything is very clear and the character models are on point. Everything moves very quickly so I can only imagine how many frames it probably took to make. A lot of effort was put into this one for sure.
Overall, This was a pretty fun special. Naturally there is only so much that you can do in a few minutes but it’s an entertaining experience. Goofy gets a happy ending which is happy for his fans since that seems to be a rather rare occurrence for him. Driving the trailer for so long is definitely tough so he earned this one. If you like the classic Disney specials or just enjoy a light hearted comedy then you’ll enjoy this one. Either way it is only an investment of a few minutes.